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Cost of living payment: When is it and who gets it?

Woman holding a baby
Woman holding a baby

Eight million people are receiving the final instalment of cost of living payments totalling £900.

Those on means-tested benefits including universal credit will be paid directly, without the need to make a claim, by 22 February.

However, the payments have not tackled the extent of the financial problems many people face, a group of MPs says.

Who can get the £900 cost of living payment?

It is available to households who receive these benefits:

  • universal credit

  • income-based jobseeker's allowance

  • income-related employment and support allowance

  • income support

  • working tax credit

  • child tax credit

  • pension credit

The final instalment of £299 follows two others last year, of £301 and £300.

To qualify, people need to have claimed a benefits payment between 13 November 2023 and 12 December 2023. Those who received a payment for an assessment period ending between these dates are also eligible.

Pensioner households may be able to have a new pension credit claim backdated.

An estimated 850,000 pensioner households do not claim pension credit, which is a gateway to these extra payments.

People are not eligible if they receive new-style employment and support allowance, contributory employment and support allowance, or new-style jobseeker's allowance - unless they get universal credit.

Anyone who thinks they should have received the help but did not should contact the office that pays their benefit or tax credits, or report it here.

The payment reference on a recipient's bank account is their National Insurance number, followed by DWP COL.

The 1.1 million people who receive only working tax credit or child tax credit, rather than any of the other benefits have the reference HMRC COLS.

Cost of living payments do not affect the tax you pay, or the benefits or tax credits you receive.

What extra help are pensioners getting?

Households that receive the winter fuel payment - which is paid to nearly all homes with at least one person of pension age - received an extra payment of between £150 and £300 during the winter.

Lower-income pensioners who claim pension credit get the money in addition to the support provided for those on benefits.

A £150 payment was also made to up to six million people receiving disability benefits, between 20 June and 4 July.

All cost of living payments go straight into recipients' bank accounts.

People are being warned about scammers trying to trick people into handing over personal information.

Cost of living: Tackling it together
Cost of living: Tackling it together

What have MPs said about cost of living money?

Payments were not enough for many people, MPs on the Commons Work and Pensions Committee said in a report published in November.

It said payments were not enough for those with extra costs associated with their disabilities. Disability charity Scope says some people cannot afford to power vital equipment.

There was particular concern for some larger families.

The report said the payments have had an important impact, but the system was relatively unsophisticated, meaning some of those in need slipped through the net.

It said that in future, the government should consider increasing benefits rather than giving ad-hoc payments.

However, the government said cost of living payments have provided "a significant financial boost to millions of households".

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